Hitler And Gandhi


     In the late 1800ís and the early 1900ís the people of northern Europe,
southern Africa and Asia were in despair. They had no leaders. They were
defenseless. India had been taken over by the British Empire and now the 315
million Indians were under the rule of the 100 thousand British soldiers there.

In Germany there were six different political groups; nobody knew what to do.

These countries were in shock, they need a change, but more importantly, they
needed a leader. Mohandas K. Gandhi was a law student, born and raised in India,
but schooled in England. Early on in his career he returned to his birthplace
and attempted to practice law there, but he was very unsuccessful. A few years
later he moved to South Africa, and again attempted to set up a law practice
there. But South Africa was now in British control and the Indian lawyer was
subjected to a lot of racial prejudice. Almost immediately he was abused because
of his heritage and his law practice went down the drain. Gandhi began to notice
the awful discriminations that all Indians suffered from. In 1894 he began a
movement that would shape the way that Indians are viewed even today. He began
to take charge; he began to lead his people. Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau,

Austria in 1889, about the time that Gandhi was realizing his mission in life.

Like Mohandas K. Gandhi, Hitler was very smart as a child. Being the son of a
public servant, he was able to attend the best schools and was able to partake
in any extra-curricular activities he desired. All his father wanted was for his
son to follow in his footsteps and attain the rank of public servant or even
better, but the boy was very stubborn and when his father refused to let him
chase a career as an artist, he decided to stop doing his work, and his grades
began to fall drastically. When his father died he quit school and for the next
few years lived off his familyís money. He did nothing but read books, draw
pictures and daydream all day long. When he was 18 (in 1907) he moved to Vienna,
the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and tried to get into an art school
there. But unfortunately for the world, he failed his entrance exams, twice. His
mother died a few years later and he inherited quite a bit of money, so for the
next part of his life he lived quite comfortably in Vienna as an
"artist." Around this time Hitler became very interested in politics.

He joined the military and became a Social Democrat. He developed a huge hatred
for Jews and Slavs and became an extreme nationalist. He recognized that no form
of government could ever last as long as the people of all different
nationalities were treated equally. When the war broke out in 1914, Hitler
immediately volunteered. He was accepted and served as a messenger. But Hitler
was too smart to stay as merely a messenger. His knowledge of war and his
extreme military tactics helped him to achieve the rank of corporal. After

Germanyís defeat in World War I, the country went into a state of turmoil.

When Hitler recovered from the shock of having lost the war, he joined a small
political group called the German Workers Party. He quickly gained rank and
changed the name of the political group to the National Socialist German

Workerís Party. The NSGWP was soon to take over the title of Nazis. In May of

1929, the NSGWP had only about 3% of the Germans following them, but by the time

Hitler took over in 1933, around 35% of Germany were backing the Nazis. In 5
years Hitler had taken over the NSGWP and Germany. Hitler rose because Germany
needed a leader, and that was exactly was he offered them. Hitler and Gandhi
both gained the respect of their people in very short periods of time. They both
even used some of the same techniques. Both Hitler and Gandhi knew that writing
and having his thoughts and ideas published was very important, but the only way
to really get the peoples attention was to go out and speak to them.
"...the people can be moved only by the power of speech." They both
used speech as a weapon and they used it well. At one point in his life, Hitler
even refers to the, "magic[al] power of the spoken word... "

Propaganda was also very important to both of these leaders. Hitler introduced
the swastika and his infamous, "Heil, Hitler" salute, while Gandhi
used his everlasting hunger strikes to stir the nation. Both of these leaders
gave their countries what they needed, a person to tell them what to do, a
figure of power, a leader. While Hitler and Gandhi both used some similar
techniques to gain their power, once in control, they were very different men.

Hitler abused his powers, while Gandhi wanted nothing more than to free his
people. "It is not because I value life low... " but Gandhi at any
point of his reign would have been willing to give his life for the freedom and
safety of his people. Hitler's ego, greed, and self-centeredness caused him to
abuse his great deal of power. He took advantage of what he had, which was a
great many people who worshipped and followed his every move. After World War I,
the Treaty of Versailles didnít allow the Germans much breathing room when it
came to the military, but by the 1940s, the Germans were not being watched as
closely and Hitler was little by little allowed to rebuild his army. At this
time he instigated the "Hitler Youth Program" which was a compulsory
program for all youth of Germany which was run by the schools and government
powers. Every youth over the age of thirteen was forced to join. He introduced
his idea of "Blitzkreig" which was a five-step process to take over
the world. Within a few years he had most of Europe and some of Asia under his
control. His use of brute, "naked force" is what gave Germany the edge
they needed to begin on the road to world domination. Hitler cared so little for
his people that he would sacrifice thousands of them to get what he wanted. He
had power, and he abused it as much as he could. Thus began Hitler's biggest
attempt at abusing his power. Thus began the Holocaust. Gandhi had a
diametrically opposite approach to attaining his goals. First, he did not
believe in using violence to get what he wanted. He felt that "Suffering in
oneís own person is ... the essence of non-violence and is the chosen
substitute for violence to others. " As Gandhi said on page 200, "I
have no weapon but non-violence." Gandhi felt that the only way to defeat a
powerful force that was to sit back and use any non-violent method possible. If
someone died, it was just as big a blow to the opposition as it was to you. But

Gandhi, like Hitler was also very stubborn. His stubbornness, was another weapon
he used to get what he wanted. When his non-violent marches all of the sudden
turned into a brutal murder of 8 British military officers, Gandhi was very
upset. The Indians had become powerful and were starting to take over and
eliminate their British superiors. Gandhi thought this to be worse than what
they had before and he refused to eat or drink until all the killings has
stopped and the Indians once again began to march and use passive resistance to
gain their independence (Gandhi often referred to this as Swaraj or self-rule).

By this time, Gandhi was so powerful that all the killings stopped, just to save
his life. As independence approached and Hindus and Muslims continued to fight
and kill each other, Gandhi once again put his belief of non-violence into play.

He went on his own to a Muslim-majority area of Bengal, placing himself as a
hostage for the safety of Muslims living among Hindus in western Bengal. Once
again, within days, the fighting stopped and Gandhiís stubbornness had saved
the day. Hitler and Gandhi both had many devices set up to help them not only
gain power, but once in power, to keep their power. Hitler chose to scare the
masses into following him, while Gandhi chose the less violent, but harder way
to go, using only his two most lethal non-violent methods; love and truth.

Gandhi loved everyone and everyone was forgiven. Both of these leaders
accomplished their goals as well. Hitler accomplished not only killing 6 million

Jews, but he also tore apart Europe and especially Germany. And while Hitler was
out running his concentration camps, Gandhi fulfilled his dream of having a
separate, free India. He single-handedly freed 315 million Indians, Muslims, and

Hindus from British control. When we look back on these two men, Gandhi will
forever be known as one of the greatest men who ever lived, while Hitler is what
people think the devil would be like. Both of these men had great amounts of
power, but each used it differently; one for good, one for evil. Itís obvious
who came out on top.